Prison Radio
Dontie Mitchell

“Fake News and a Dirty Game.”

I was watching the news for upstate New York when a report was aired about three correctional officers being injured by a prisoner at Greene Correctional Facility in Coxsackie, New York. I’ve been noticing this a lot in the past year. Upstate news agencies love to report on how correction offices are being attacked and injured by prisoners or how prison violence is up.

What these biased news agencies have failed to report is how correctional officers are deliberately provoking most of these incidents. And how the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision has deliberately prevented prisoners from engaging in positive and constructive activities that cut down on prison violence.

All this is happening in reaction to the successes of the prison reform/prison abolition movement. People are slowly beginning to realize how immoral and racist mass incarceration is and how wasteful and ineffective prisons are. This threatens a whole lot of jobs, raise the age, bail reform or alternatives to incarceration, restorative justice, prison college programs, and prison organizations like UFD.

All of these things work to reduce prison populations. If prison populations decrease, prisons and jails close. So, upstate news agencies are reporting more on juvenile crimes, more on people with long criminal histories getting released without having to pay bail, more on people being rearrested who were on parole, more on correctional officers being attacked by prisoners, and more on prison violence.

But none of these fake news agencies are reporting on the death of prisoners at the hands of correctional officers, on the racial disparity of who was incarcerated, or on the successes of restorative justice, prison college programs, and prison organizations like UFD in keeping people out of prison and improving public safety.

And what upsets me most is how prison reform advocates and prison abolitionists are failing to counter this propaganda campaign, which is resulting in increased harm being done to us- to us prisoners. Did you people think law enforcement hawks and correction officers’ unions were going to sit by idly and do nothing as their jobs were being threatened by criminal justice and prison reform and efforts to close down prisons?

Did you think prisons’ administrators—who are used to covering up the abuse and mistreatment of prisoners and used to covering up their incompetent and bad policies—were going to suddenly side with us? This is a dirty game these people are playing to preserve their jobs and the status quo.

Prison reform advocates, but especially prison abolitionists, will do well to know they’re going to lose this war in the long run without stronger efforts to support, help, protect, defend, and organize prisoners, and to socioeconomically empower Black and disadvantaged people.

This is Dontie S. Mitchell, better known as Mfalme Sikivu, reporting to you from Great Meadow Correctional Facility in Comstock, New York. Follow me @FreeDontieMitchell on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Send me an email or video-gram through with your questions and comments. I would love to hear from and struggle with you. Thank you for listening, and God bless.

(Sound of a cell door closing.) These commentaries are recorded by Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio.